Sumerian Mythology - Samuel Noah Kramer (1944-1961).pdf

(1531 KB) Pobierz
Sumerian Mythology
By Samuel Noah Kramer
[1944, 1961]
The Sumerians were a non-Semitic, non-Indo-European people who lived in southern Babylonia from 4000-
3000 B.C.E. They invented cunieform writing, and their spiritual beliefs influenced all successive Near
Eastern religions, including Judaism, Christianity and Islam. They produced an extensive body of literature,
among the oldest in the world. Samuel Noah Kramer spent most of his life studying this literature, by
piecing together clay tablets in far-flung museums. This short work gives translations or summaries of the
most important Sumerian myths.
815945587.022.png 815945587.023.png 815945587.024.png 815945587.025.png 815945587.001.png 815945587.002.png 815945587.003.png 815945587.004.png 815945587.005.png 815945587.006.png 815945587.007.png 815945587.008.png 815945587.009.png
This tablet (29.16.422 in the Nippur collection of the University Museum) is one of the unpublished pieces
belonging to the Sumerian epic poem 1 whose hero Enmerkar ruled in the city of Erech sometime during
the fourth millennium B. C. The passage enclosed by the black line describes the blissful and unrivalled
state of man in an era of universal peace before he had learned to know fear and before the "confusion of
tongues"; its contents, 2 which are very reminiscent of Genesis XI:1, read as follows:
In those days there was no snake, there was no scorpion, there was no hyena ,
There was no lion, there was no wild dog , no wolf,
There was no fear, no terror,
Man had no rival.
In those days the land Shubur (East), the place of plenty, of righteous decrees,
Harmony-tongued Sumer (South), the great land of the "decrees of princeship,"
Uri (North), the land having all that is needful ,
The land Martu (West), resting in security,
The whole universe, the people in unison ,
To Enlil in one tongue gave praise .
815945587.010.png 815945587.011.png 815945587.012.png 815945587.013.png 815945587.014.png 815945587.015.png 815945587.016.png
A Study of Spiritual and Literary Achievement in the Third Millennium B.C.
University of Pennsylvania Press
[1944, revised 1961]
Scanned at, October 2004. John Bruno Hare, redactor. This text is in the public
domain in the US because it was not renewed in a timely fashion at the US Copyright Office as
required by law at the time. These files can be used for any non-commercial purpose, provided
this notice of attribution is left intact.
To My Wife
815945587.017.png 815945587.018.png 815945587.019.png
p. v
The Sumerians were a non-Semitic, non-Indo-European people who flourished in southern Babylonia from
the beginning of the fourth to the end of the third millennium B. C. During this long stretch of time the
Sumerians, whose racial and linguistic affiliations are still unclassifiable, represented the dominant cultural
group of the entire Near East. This cultural dominance manifested itself in three directions:
1. It was the Sumerians who developed and probably invented the cuneiform system of writing which was
adopted by nearly all the peoples of the Near East and without which the cultural progress of western Asia
would have been largely impossible.
2. The Sumerians developed religious and spiritual concepts together with a remarkably well integrated
pantheon which influenced profoundly all the peoples of the Near East, including the Hebrews and the
Greeks. Moreover, by way of Judaism, Christianity, and Mohammedanism, not a few of these spiritual and
religious concepts have permeated the modern civilized world.
3. The Sumerians produced a vast and highly developed literature, largely poetic in character, consisting of
epics and myths, hymns and lamentations, proverbs and "words of wisdom." These compositions are
inscribed in cuneiform script on clay tablets which date largely from approximately 1750 B. C. a In the
course of the past hundred years, approximately five b thousand such literary pieces have been excavated in
the mounds of ancient Sumer. Of this number, over two thousand, more than two-thirds of our source
material, were excavated by the University of Pennsylvania in the mound covering ancient Nippur in the
course of four grueling campaigns lasting from 1889 to 1900; these Nippur tablets and fragments represent,
therefore, the major
p. viii
source for the reconstruction of the Sumerian compositions. As literary products, these Sumerian
compositions rank high among the creations of civilized man. They compare not unfavorably with the
ancient Greek and Hebrew masterpieces, and like them mirror the spiritual and intellectual life of an
otherwise little known civilization. Their significance for a proper appraisal of the cultural and spiritual
development of the Near East can hardly be overestimated. The Assyrians and Babylonians took them over
almost in toto. The Hittites translated them into their own language and no doubt imitated them widely. The
form and contents of the Hebrew literary creations and to a certain extent even those of the ancient Greeks
815945587.020.png 815945587.021.png
were profoundly influenced by them. As practically the oldest written literature of any significant amount
ever uncovered , it furnishes new, rich, and unexpected source material to the archaeologist and
anthropologist, to the ethnologist and student of folklore, to the students of the history of religion and of the
history of literature.
In spite of their unique and extraordinary significance, and although the large majority of the tablets on
which they were inscribed were excavated almost half a century ago, the translation and interpretation of
the Sumerian literary compositions have made relatively little progress to date. The translation of Sumerian
is a highly complicated process. It is only in comparatively recent years that the grammar has been
scientifically established, while the lexical problems are still numerous and far from resolved. By far the
major obstacle to a trustworthy reconstruction and translation of the compositions, however, is the fact that
the greater part of the tablets and fragments on which they are inscribed, and which are now largely located
in the Museum of the Ancient Orient at Istanbul and in the University Museum at Philadelphia, have been
lying about uncopied and unpublished, and thus unavailable for study. To remedy this situation, I travelled
to Istanbul in 1937, and, with the aid of a Guggenheim fellowship, devoted some twenty months to the
copying of 170 tablets and fragments in the
p. ix
[paragraph continues] Nippur collection of the Museum of the Ancient Orient. And largely with the help of a
grant from the American Philosophical Society, the better part of the past three years has been devoted to
the studying of the unpublished literary pieces in the Nippur collection of the University Museum; their
copying has already begun. c
It is the utilization of this vast quantity of unpublished Sumerian literary tablets and fragments in the
University Museum, approximately 675 pieces according to my investigations, which will make possible
the restoration and translation of the Sumerian literary compositions and lay the groundwork for a study of
Sumerian culture, especially in its more spiritual aspects; a study which, considering the age of the culture
involved, that of the third millennium B. C., will long remain unparalleled for breadth of scope and fullness
of detail. As the writer visualizes it, the preparation and publication of this survey would be most effective
in the form of a seven-volume series bearing the general title, Studies in Sumerian Culture . The first
volume, the present Memoir , is therefore largely introductory in character; it contains a detailed description
of our sources together with a brief outline of the more significant mythological concepts of the Sumerians
as evident from their epics and myths.
The five subsequent volumes, as planned by the author, will consist primarily of source material, that is,
they will contain the transliterated texts of the restored Sumerian compositions, together with a translation
and commentary as well as the autograph copies of all the pertinent uncopied material in the University
Museum utilized for the reconstruction of the texts. Each of these five volumes will be devoted to a
particular class of Sumerian composition: (1) epics; (2) myths; (3) hymns; (4) lamentations; (5) "wisdom."
It cannot be too strongly stressed that on the day this task is completed and Sumerian literature is restored
and made available to scholar and layman, the humanities will be enriched by one of the most magnificent
groups of documents ever brought to light. As the earliest
p. x
Zgłoś jeśli naruszono regulamin